The latest on tax bill

The latest on tax bill

Republican congressional leaders are keeping a lid on the behind-the-scenes negotiations on a final tax bill.

Number of the Day

76 percent - The share of working people without a college degree who have service jobs in industries such as retail or health care. (Source: Center for American Progress via CityLab)

Republican congressional leaders are keeping a lid on the behind-the-scenes negotiations on a final tax bill. Wednesday’s scheduled public meeting of the conference committee is the only opportunity opponents of the plan will have to give their formal input before a final bill is presented for a vote, which is likely to take place Monday or Tuesday of next week. Bloomberg News has the latest:

Sticking points on major issues include where to set the corporate rate — a cornerstone of the GOP tax overhaul — how to rewrite international tax provisions, how to tax so-called pass-through businesses, whether to partially preserve state and local tax deductions for individuals and whether to end the estate tax. When asked which decisions have been made, GOP Senator John Thune, the chamber’s No. 3 Republican, said: “Nothing, really.”

While the details are still being ironed out, this much is clear: the final bill will be a massive redistribution of wealth from those at the bottom and middle to the richest and most powerful people in the country. Eduardo Porter writes for The New York Times that this could be bad for everyone:

The Joint Committee’s analysis of an early version of the Senate Republican plan found that 10 years from now, millionaires would get a tax cut worth $8,500, on average. People earning $75,000 or less, by contrast, would experience a tax increase. Adding in the cuts to Social Security, Medicaid, education and other programs that Republicans are planning to cull to pay for the tax reductions, the cost to poor and middle-income families would be even greater. And this presents an immediate ethical problem. Students of the history of economic thought learn early on that taking money from the poor and the middle class to give to the rich tends to reduce overall welfare for the simple reason that an extra dollar provides much more to those who have few of them than to those already rolling in money. Most conventional proposals to increase general welfare support redistributing in the other direction.


Kimmel pushes for CHIP funding

Billy Kimmel, the 8-month-old son of late night star Jimmy Kimmel, is recovering from his second heart surgery and was feeling well enough to join his father on stage last night. Over the past several months, the talk show host has pleaded with his national audience to join the effort to preserve the Affordable Care Act, mentioning his son’s serious medical needs as an example of what families are dealing with all across the country. Last night, he turned his attention to the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which remains unfunded, even as Congress remains focused on tax cuts. States are scrambling to figure out how to maintain the program in the new year. The Washington Post’s Emily Yahr quotes Kimmel:

Congress, about 72 days ago, failed to approve funding for CHIP since the first time it was created two decades ago. This is literally a life-and-death program for American kids. It’s always had bipartisan support. But this year, they let the money for it expire while they work on getting tax cuts for their billionaire and millionaire donors. And imagine getting that letter, literally not knowing how you will afford to save your child’s life. This is not a hypothetical. About 2 million CHIP kids have serious chronic conditions.


Who is the working class?

Industrial jobs have never been the largest source of employment for people in the working class, or workers without college degrees, according to a new brief by Center for American Progress. Mining, manufacturing, and construction are at the center of working class mythology, but these jobs made up fewer than 50 percent of working class jobs, even in their heyday in the 1960s. Then and today, jobs in the service sector make up the vast majority of those held by people without college degrees. And the real difference between the quality of those jobs and of jobs in manufacturing is collective bargaining. Tanvi Misra of CityLab explains:

As service jobs have increased in share, their working conditions have worsened. A janitor working at a large multinational company today has much lower wages, career growth, and job security than a similarly situated janitor did when unions were stronger. That’s because companies have shifted how they view—and compensate—such labor, as unions have been weakened. Service jobs in domestic work—child care that women workers typically do—are particularly devalued and even more precarious.


Medicaid work requirements are counterproductive

Six states have asked the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to approve waivers allowing them to impose work requirements for Medicaid coverage. While CMS has signalled its approval in public statements, the agency has not yet approved the waivers. CMS administrator Seema Verma previously suggested that goals should be set to shrink Medicaid programs. Work requirements, time limits, and drug testing have all been proposed as policies to cut people off. However, as Dylan Scott writes for Vox, the vast majority of Medicaid enrollees are employed, students, retired or unable to work, and those who are without a job have significant barriers to employment.

When you break down the “out of work” population, based on the Michigan survey, you don’t really get a picture of lazy hangers-on. Instead, you see people with real barriers to working — and who might benefit from having health insurance.

Two-thirds said they had a chronic physical illness.

35 percent said they had been diagnosed with a mental illness.

One-quarter said they had a physical or mental condition that interfered with their ability to function at least half of the time.


LBP’s Jeanie Donovan provided a Louisiana perspective on this issue in April.  


Number of the Day

76 percent – The share of working people without a college degree who have service jobs in industries such as retail or health care. (Source: Center for American Progress via CityLab)